Beyond Advanced Placement

Last Wednesday I took the College Board's Advanced Placement Calculus AB Exam. It was quite the experience. The exam was the fourth AP test I had taken in my life, but it was the first and only one I took in a subject not in the humanities. The next day, I took the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Exam. It was the last AP test I will ever take.

Calculus was quite the strange kettle of fish. In the days leading up to the test I did a complete test from years before, so I actually did know what I was up against. On the practice test I scored half a point short of a five (the highest "grade" you can get)—but in some ways I still felt that I really wasn't fully enough aware of the material to do well on it. In essence I felt that although I could do the problems and come up with answers, most of the time I wasn't fully comprehending either my means or my purpose in reaching those answers. During the actual exam the experience largely seemed the same—except that it was obviously less comfortable doing the work. The key that I'm proud of is that I answered every single question, even though incorrect multiple choice answers subtract from your score, and the written out free response questions have complex smaller parts within them. I wouldn't be surprised if I got a four, but I honestly believe I merited a five on the test. Despite that, even though I can manipulate integrals and derivatives backwards and forwards and even apply them sometimes, I'm still not sure I can really fully explain their meaning. Maybe that's just how math is. Oh well—I'll get over it.

When I took the Literature exam I was in a whole different arena. More than this entire year of class I've gone through, I believe it was my English class last year that carried me through the test, and the writing and reading skills I developed while in AP Language and Composition made the Literature test almost seem like deja vu all over again. The only real unique component that Literature seemed to bring into my native-language-analyzing ability seemed to be, appropriately, a greater knowledge of classic literature. This is no small bit of knowledge, of course; I still have hardly scratched the surface of all those works that we speakers of English are all supposed to know so well—but still, literature class really gave me a chance to expand on that awareness, whereas it was language the year before that gave me the skills to examine and express quality writing. It's funny how appropriate the name of each class is, isn't it? I almost feel a bit sorry though for the juniors who were in our Lit class; it's obvious that they simply didn't pick up the same foundational writing ability during our year of class that we seniors who had been in Bowlen's class the year before possessed. All in all, I actually would be quite surprised if I didn't get a five on my literature test. In a way, taking the exam made me reaffirm my love of English. Writing three essays in a row on useless passages and literary nonsense? Wonderful! (And please, understand that the words useless and nonsense are meant in jest. I hope that the linguophiles among us are not hurt; I am truly one among you.)

As of today, I actually still have homework in both my AP classes—three assignments each, as a matter of fact. Ironically, my procrastion creating this fact has to be attributed to the ending of further assignments. The exams have brought a very real sense of closure to my AP classes and largely to the year as a whole (and thus high school). Now our time in calculus and lit is entirely labor free, so I'm left still putting off these things I left undone before the exams. Let me give you a description of what happened during my time at Ketchikan High School today, just to show how lax things are:
In first period, (calculus), we decided to forego playing poker as we have the past few days in order to study for our government test.

In second period, I took my government test. Now we shall be playing games, turning in our texts and doing who knows what.

In third period, (lit), we continued watching the movie The Great Gatsby from when we started it yesterday.

For fourth period, the underclassmen were at an elections assembly for next year's potential officials to make their pitches, so the seniors had a short class meeting in which we voted on our legacy for the school and then we went to lunch early—way early. I actually got a ride down to Safeway and got some nice oat-chocolate chip chewy bars to eat after some lengthy deliberation through the grocery store's aisles. Lunchtime for everyone began some time after I returned.

In fifth period, we did more work in French. I'm kind of amazed with what we've been doing, because we've actually had more work in French in these past few weeks than we've had during any similar time period all year. The funny thing is that I actually enjoy it—or at least don't mind it at all. Besides being labor-intensive, doing class work in French is kind of fun, and I'm still not going to take any of it home.
All in all, I really have to say that I've loved my experience at Kayhi—and I'm loving these last few weeks especially. The only problem is those extraneous abandoned assignments... You can move beyond AP tests, class work, homework, learning—but you can't move beyond procrastination without challenging it eventually.